Monday Medical: The future of diabetes care

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— Diabetes is in the spotlight as our local and national health care systems continue to evolve.

One of 500 practices in the nation to participate in the comprehensive primary care initiative through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Yampa Valley Medical Associates in Steamboat Springs has chosen to focus on diabetes.

Monday Medical

Monday Medical columns publish weekly in the Steamboat Today's Yampa Valley Health section. Read more columns here.

Frankie Hannah, physician assistant at YVMA, is the care coordinator for the initiative. He also is one of three local health care experts who will share their knowledge at Yampa Valley Medical Center’s free Taking Care of Me program, “Diabetes Care: Today and the Future,” on Jan. 15.

YVMC registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Pam Wooster, who is coordinator of the hospital’s nationally recognized Diabetes Education program, will address lifestyle management of diabetes. Internal medicine physician Dr. Kevin Borgerding, of YVMA, will discuss the serious cardiac and stroke risks that accompany diabetes.

Hannah will explain the future of managing diabetes, which places more responsibility on the patient and preventive care. The health care delivery system is shifting from the traditional fee-for-service model to a preventive approach.

“The goal is for people to stay out of the ER, hospital or doctor’s office and therefore make health care more affordable. In the long run, the patient will save money, and the health care system will spend less.”

In simple terms, the focus is changing from managing illness to managing and maintaining health. Few illnesses are so obviously linked to health habits as Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by higher-than-normal blood glucose levels caused by the body’s inability to metabolize glucose, or sugar. It occurs either when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or when the body cannot use insulin effectively, a condition known as insulin resistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 1980 through 2011, the number of U.S. adults ages 18 or older with diagnosed diabetes more than tripled, skyrocketing from 5.5 million to 19.6 million.

Although genetic risk factors play a key role, the alarming escalation of Type 2 diabetes cases is attributed largely to obesity caused by physical inactivity and poor eating habits.

“The incidence rate of Type 2 diabetes mirrors the obesity rate — both have gone up each year,” Hannah said. “Routt County is the thinnest county in the thinnest state in the country, but we still have diabetes.

“We want to highlight diabetes and educate individuals on how they can manage their diabetes and improve their risks.”

Another aspect of the comprehensive primary care initiative is identifying more resources and creating or strengthening interconnected networks for health care. Hannah points to existing resources such as the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Integrated Health program and numerous social services in Routt County.

“We are providing more resources with integrative care and community health teams,” Hannah said. “The goal is for patients to connect with these resources and then take individual responsibility for improving their health.

“Lifestyle changes are by far the best treatment for Type 2 diabetes, and we are encouraging mindful management of weight and diabetes.”

The Jan. 15 lunchtime program will feature a tasty, nutritious lunch prepared by the YVMC culinary team. Wooster also will share take-home nutrition and activity tips to assist people in making healthy changes.

The free program requires advance registration by calling 970-871-2500 or going online to the event calendar at www.yvmc.org.

Christine McKelvie is a writer/editor for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at christine.mckelvie@yvmc.org.

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